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  • Jani Brajkovic

WHEN TO REST

When to rest? A good question and my answer as a professional cyclist was when your body stops you and you can't go any further. In my case, this is what happened most of the time. I started cycling when I was seventeen. With a height of 150 cm and a weight of 37 kg, I was far behind, compared to my peers. Because the bike gave me freedom, I felt better after a long, exhausting training session (of course, this was an illusion, the bike was a means of exhausting and releasing emotions, especially hatred towards my mother), I stayed home alone that summer, with the intention of making up for the missed training and being able to race with the strongest riders. Because "then I will be happy, others will like me, I will be enough".

Every day I got up at 7 a.m., ate 330g of cereals, hopped on the bike and rode. I cycled for 4,5,6 or more hours. I remember that I did an average of 1200 km per week, with one "rest" day, per week- 2-2.5 hours of riding. I quickly realized that if I allow myself to take a day off or two days of slow, short riding, I feel worse, more tired, and often get sick. I didn't know then, I didn't even want to know, that by exaggerating I was increasing the ego's debt towards the body, which at a certain point would be so great that I would not be able to repay it and the body would bury me.

The fact is that the mind does not get tired as much as the body during exercise, and a mind separated from the body (which was definitely true in my case) believes that the body can withstand much more than it’s actual capabilities.The environment encourages cyclist to grit his teeth, endure, train and race when he is sick or injured. Moreover, such cyclists are glorified by the environment in which they operate, as well as by the fans and the media, they are heroes, role models for younger generations.

The head believed that the body had to suffer, that I had to tire it out, exhaust it, "kill it", because only then would I be better than others. When I went daily beyond the body's capacity, the ego blocked even more body sensations that were unwanted. This reduced the complexity of my movement on, and off the bike. Efficiency was decreasing. I’d say that my training method was one of the most ineffective ones, as I had to invest up to 30% more energy than other competitors for the same result. The tone of the muscles, the tightness of the membrane increased over the years, to the limit, until I couldn’t find a masseur who could soften, relax my muscles. I’m thinking aloud, I didn’t want relaxed muscles, they had to remain contracted, rigid, so that either I didn't become aware of internal feelings, or these feelings were very distorted. The mind had to remain separate from the body, because of cycling and because of the illusion I had created from my childhood traumas.

I remember how tired I was all the time, the only goal in the day was training, for which there was no more energy. After a few years of such abuse of the body, the body said "that's enough, it's over", I got sick, burned out. I was collecting myself for a good eight months. In the battle of body and ego, the ego wins the battle and the body wins the war.


There were many such cases. I remember back in 2010 when I was racing a lot in the spring. I took a week off after the race in May. I allowed myself to relax. However, as the muscle armor began to loosen, the energy trapped in the armor found its way out, through the membrane, in the form of disease. Digestion stopped, literally. I did 3 solid days of training in two weeks, my body wouldn't let me do more. Three days before the race everything changed, I was better. Probably for the first and last time in my career, I decided not to exaggerate these three days. My body rewarded me with the shape of a lifetime, I won the race, beat the best rider in the world...with ease.

One would say I learned something from it. But that was not the case. I started exaggerating again, history repeated itself again. Falls, injuries, illnesses, chronic fatigue.

When I look back now, I couldn’t had been otherwise, there was no other way. I was trapped in a spiral of destruction where I couldn't find a way out of it. I needed the constriction of the membrane so that I could not feel physical and psychological pain and the reality of the situation, but at the same time, this constriction prevented me from feeling my body, which was constantly telling me to stop killing, abusing and destroying myself.

It's different nowadays. Even a year ago, even though I was already in AEQ® world, I was still abusing myself. I was addicted to the bike. But we know that every addiction leads to destruction. I prefer to go for walks with my family, now I like to walk.I don't need a bike anymore, sometimes I’d go riding when I have good company. After the AEQ® Breathing Level 2 seminar, I took 2 days of rest because I felt I needed it. The feeling was much better on the 3rd day. I'm just now starting to understand how important rest is and that rest doesn't always mean laziness.





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